Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

Solidarity April 9, 2009

Filed under: interconnected,social investment,solidarity — Saera @ 3:42 pm

If all I wanted was to get myself off-grid and “free” from the many constraints of modern society, I could do it, fairly easily even. I could simply move to one of the (few) parts of the world where traditional lifeways still persist, although I might have to save a chunk of money to get there, or be willing to be an absolute and utter hermit in the more densely populated areas of our own country. But I want far more than that. I want for anyone who desires it and is willing to work for it to also have the opportunity to live a self-determined life. I want to offer a model anyone could use to achieve that. I want to create the means for American society to transform itself, and thereby the rest of the world.

This is where solidarity comes in.

Solidarity is the idea that if someone else is experiencing social or other structural injustice, I stand by that person and work with them to change that situation. Many people may be familiar with this through the history of the labor movements in Europe and the United States, and revolutionary movements of former colonies. Really this concept contributes to the strength of any community.

Around the world as industrialization and colonization have occurred and continue to occur, local communities often experience a breakdown in social cohesion. Much of this could be considered to be undermining solidarity by encouraging people to be primarily concerned with their own fortunes and not the whole of the community. Unfortunately, this process divorces people from the reality that the condition of a community’s solidarity reflects whether other conditions which support the success of individuals to be empowered are likely to continue.

I feel like here I’m about to get into self and inter-reliance. Just making a break here in case I decide they really are separate subjects.

Reliance can be viewed as 3 potential components: self, inter, and dependency. Often in our (American) society, reference is only made to self-reliance and dependence. This is of great concern because it suggests that only two extremes and no middle ground exist, which doesn’t reflect my experience of reality.

Self reliance suggests that people have a number of traits which propel them towards greater achievement. Dependency suggests that a person cannot take initiative or be motivated unless they are pushed by another person. While both conditions occur, neither is really healthy, and it seems to me that most people blend a combination of these two, primarily centered on a third type of reliance, which I term inter-reliance. More on that soon!

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2 Responses to “Solidarity”

  1. Kara Says:

    I think that’s a useful distinction to make, between being dependent on others and being inter-dependent with others. Americans especially have a fear of becoming dependent, or having people dependent on us, because it feels like a sort of trap. Probably it’s the case that the shift toward nuclear families has a lot to do with that feeling; if there’s only one other person to rely on, and one of you is impaired, the burden on the other quickly becomes very great.

    This reminds me of what Daniel Quinn says about tribes: that all our social services have had to be monetized, and cost us so much money, when in community they are handled almost effortlessly by each member doing a little bit. Personally, I have found that giving a lot of little helping hands to many people, when there are also others helping, is much less stressful than being relied upon completely by somebody else. Similarly, I feel less guilty for needing help when I’m asking small things from many people, rather than big favors from one.

    When I was at Findhorn my friend Craig Gibson, who is one of the elders there, looked me in the eye and said: “The abundance is in the connections between us.” I experienced a lot of abundance as part of a tight-knit group there. It’s true I never got to finish anything I started eating, but whenever I was hungry, somebody automatically handed me something yummy. I was in rather poor health, and whenever we were out somewhere and I felt like I couldn’t stand up anymore, there was literally somebody to lean against. The kids I was studying with were a big part of that, but it is also a habit of many of that community’s members to be overflowingly supportive. I remember being really upset one day, and flopping down bawling on the couch in the community center. A guy I barely knew came up and sat next to me and listened to me talk about it (actually, he sat ON me, but the extra enthusiasm was appreciated).

    Experiencing good, multidirectional support (from somebody other than my mom, that is) helped me realize exactly how painful it is to lack it, and I’m eager to find a community like that again.

  2. Saera Says:

    You know, I remember telling many people that I would read Daniel Quinn. I never did. But this post is inspiring me to add him to my summer reading list. I think that’s the last one I add… which should I read first?

    Your friend Craig sounds like a sagacious fellow. Findhorn sounds so delightful… I’m definitely going for the constant finishing-each-others-food-and-providing-more feel.


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